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Management School

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Students in Free Enterprise: Sheffield students runners-up in national competition

Runners -up at SIFE 2012

SIFE is an international non-profit organization that brings together the top leaders of today and tomorrow to create a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business. SIFE is active within Universities across more than 30 countries and around 47 universities are actively involved in SIFE UK. The teams develop both commercial and social enterprise projects, the idea being that the commercial projects allow them to fund social projects.

At the national competition the teams have to give a twenty five minute presentation outlining what they have done over the year and demonstrating the impact that their projects have had. They are judged by a panel of senior business people from a broad range of sponsor companies.

This year Sheffield SIFE had 300 student members (with approximately one third coming from the Management School) and ran over thirty different projects, both local and international. Highlights of the Sheffield presentation included Dinner in the Dark where students worked with a local restaurant and a group of visually impaired people to host a dinner in complete darkness to promote understanding of the challenges of visual impairment.   The project aims to give visually impaired people in Sheffield the skills and confidence to gain employment.  This year the team worked with four clients to develop teamwork, customer service and events management skills.


Another project, Blankets for Bolivia tackles large scale poverty caused by a lack of stable employment and made worse by extreme weather conditions and night time temperatures that rarely reach 5 degrees celsius.  The project developed a revolutionary product – thermal blankets, which could be made entirely from recycled crisp packets.   Women were taught how to make the blankets and were given basic business skills such as budgeting and leadership to ensure the sustainability of the business. The project worked with 58 women who are now able to support their families.

A third project, City Hearts, provides support to women sex-trafficked into the UK. The project focuses on building their confidence and teaches them skills and knowledge that will help integrate them back into society. This year the group worked with 12 women in a jewellery- making business.  Four women have subsequently gained work placements.

The Sheffield SIFE team reached the final 4 of the competition (for the fifth year in a row – the only team to do so) and came a very close second to eventual winners, Southampton. The Sheffield team received a standing ovation for their presentation and impressed the judging panel comprised of company representatives.

Matthew Challis, Commercial Director of Sheffield SIFE said, ‘I have gained enormously from the practical opportunities that SIFE has created. The most challenging yet rewarding aspect of the work is understanding the difficulties our clients faced in order to find entrepreneurial solutions to their problems’.


About SIFE
Founded in 1975, SIFE has active programs on more than 1,600 college and university campuses in 39 countries. For more information, contact SIFE World Headquarters at 417-831-9505 or visit


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